Archive for December, 2011

Oh, Right, College IS about Athletics

December 31, 2011

I admitt a more than a passing interest to collge football.  After the Penn State scandal, I’ve found my interest waning over the sport.  I still occasionally read on-line articles about the University of Tennessee Volunteers.  Earlier this week, a freshman wide receiver, DeAnthony Arnett, asked for an unconditional release from his scholarship to return to a school closer to home due to his father’s illness.  I don’t know the ins and outs but the comment section of the News Sentiel is lighting up on both sides of the argument.  Arnett went public with an open letter stating his reasons for wanting an unconditional release.  The letter states in part:

“My mom is in a finacial bond my father was forced to retire from his job at General Motors because of a Lung Diseas on Disability, so I started recieving social security checks for a monthly payment of 1100 a month. I was 14 years old when most of this occured so I was un able to recieve my own check until I turned 18 years old so she always controlled my money and she used that as part of her income. When I turned 18 years old the checks came in my name but my mom and I always shared the funds with her. When June came upon my graduation I  recieved a letter from the social security adminstration that my checks would be cut when I graduated so a 1100$ of income was taken from my mother household. She only attended one game this past season.

As this season went on I never was use to my parents not being at my games so it made the season a little harder for me but I still competed hard in my classes as my transcript grades from last semester were three B’s and C and I appeared in all 12 games as a true freshman this season working hard every weak to earn my playing time.”

UT is not the best school in Tennessee: the main campus is probably the 4th best in the state (private and public).  How did Arnett manage the grades he did? Better question: how did Arnett graduate from junior high, let alone high school? How did Arnett manage to qualify academically?  He may be a gifted wide receiver.  He may be a wonderful 19 year old kid.  Maybe I’m judging a book by its cover (or the standards of UT and other programs by one letter) but what on earth is going on in the public education system that allows spelling and grammar like the one Arnett wrote to be considered acceptable (as I am guessing this is close to his style of writing)? What happens to people like Arnett when the playing days are over and skills may not be there for the next level?

College athletics is a money making venture for  the schools.  It is fun for the alumni and students to attend games.  Make no bones about it: being a D-I college athlete is a full time job: to balance academics and athletics is nearly impossible (it is part of the reason the NCAA gives 5 years of scholarship dollars to complete a degree) which is why basketball programs like Duke, UT Lady Vols, the UConn women deserve a nod for very high graduation rates.  Not everybody who attends a university is going to come from equal academic backgrounds.  But the ability to write a basic (without glaring grammatical or spelling errors) letter to the editor of on a subject matter should be at the very least a requirement for graduation from high school.

Much has been debated (almost ad nauseum) about the rise of China, the slipping of the United States as an international power.  With an education system that allowed Arnett to graduate from high school and be admitted to a mid-ranked university with the writing skills he displayed is a national tragedy.  It’s time we put the money we spend on sports aside and use it towards education.  It is the very least we can do for a future.  While I hope Dooley grants the release, I also hope that Notre Dame, Michigan and Michigan State do not offer Arnett a scholarship: the kid simply doesn’t have the writing skills to compete at 2 of the top schools in the country in the classroom.

Resolutions and other nonsense

December 29, 2011

I’m not into New Year’s Resolutions – mostly because there seems to be a lack of creativity “I’m going to go to the gym every day” or “I’m going to quit smoking”.  A blog post circulated today about the UU church working on a wider justice, spiritual formation, more inclusive in its cohesiveness in the discipline of discussion.  Look, if I go to the gym every day, maybe it will help other members of my health insurance company (I mean, I’d probably be healthier and not spend as many health care dollars and all).  And no, I don’t smoke.  But, for me, many of the New Year’s Resolutions (like giving up things for Lent) have a self-serving motive.

The past year has, to me anyway, seemed to further create an us versus them divide.  99% vs 1%, Congress versus each other versus the American people, a complete and total increase in rising tensions: if you have a job, the insane competitiveness to prove why you should keep it, over and over.  It’s draining.  Maybe that has always been adulthood (how the hell would I know? I do know we have an amazing ability to glamorize and romanticize the past).

I think somewhere in the back of my head, I’ve always had this notion that people create resolutions on New Year’s Day after making a promise their higher power to never do anything like that again as long as they live.  Ok, that is probably my twisted humor after spending a few too many semesters at the overly politically correct institute of graduate theological education.  That and I’m a jackass.

This year, I decided to make a bucket list of some strange goals, some normal goals and a few I really have little control over.  If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t and I tried, well, ok.  I’m not going to involve going to the gym in this list.

1) Purchase as many items as I can from locally sourced suppliers.  Some things are out: cat food! Jackson only eats one type and I’m not about to go through changing the food of a 14-year-old fur beast.

2) Less trash tv; more books.  Ideally, I’d like to read 3 books a week.  Some fun, some more thought-provoking.

3) Have a job with benefits.  While I’m grateful for my temp job for the past 7 months, I’d really like to drop the 100% payment of my health insurance.

4) Write actual letters to my friends.  You know, the types with stamps.

5) Be more creative in my cooking.  I can make a killer potato soup but maybe expand out my culinary skills.

6) Give up on the fact that on opening day, I am 100% convinced the Cubs will not make the World Series.  I’m trying reverse karmic psychology on this: work with me.

7) Plug my ears and shout la-la-la-la when anybody equates my dislike of President Obama as being racist.  I don’t like how he has governed: I’m sure he’s a nice guy for a south sider but I’ve not been impressed with his presidency.  I think he was set up from the start as many thought he was the second coming of Kennedy or Christ depending on who you spoke to about the topic.  I didn’t like him in the primary, still don’t.  Of course, my standard for POTUS is either LBJ or Andrew Jackson depending on my mood.

8) Make the decision to redo the condo or sell.

9) Buy new storm windows.

10) Buy a hair dryer. It’s been on my to do list for 5 years. I only remember it the first really cold snap.

11) Go to NOLA this year.

12) Resist all temptations to dress up Laffite as clown for Halloween.

Localized Gumbo

December 18, 2011

For various reasons, I missed my annual trip to New Orleans.  I love New Orleans (maybe not as much as Tim Tebow loves the church, but it’s probably pretty close).  Eating in New Orleans is like taking a cab ride in China. . . . it’s a culinary adventure being deathly allergic to shellfish and all.  Still, I’ve found ways to eat (and drink) across the Crescent City.  I laughed when a recipe for gumbo floated across the in-box this week.  Aside from the obvious miscues (roux and okra?), the processed food and urging people to buy pre-chopped goods to save time (hi, your making ROUX people. . . . you can chop celery.), I started re-formulating the recipe in my head to make a GF, shellfish free gumbo.

1 cup of olive oil or melted butter

2 1/2 cups of GF Flour (I used King Arthur’s)

1 lb of sausage

3 cloves garlic

1 quart of whole tomatoes/basil

1 tsp of thyme and basil (dried)

4 cups chopped onions

4 cups chopped celery

8  cups chicken stock

2 green onions, chopped.

meat of 1 chicken shredded

1 teaspoon gumbo file

Hot sauce to taste

Ok, making roux is a pain and lost art (check out Top Chef from a few weeks ago if you don’t believe me).  You have to heat the oil and gently stir in the flour.  Then cook without burning to your prefered shade of brown without burning.  Initially you have to stir it consistently and constantly but for the last hour (yes hour) you can stir every 5-10 minutes.  The trick is to get a deep brown color without burning; after about 40 minutes it should look like the color of peanut butter.  I bake the sausage in the oven at 400 until done while making the roux.

Remove from heat allow to cool a bit.  Here is the fun part: whisk in the chicken broth quickly to minimize clumping.  I’ve found it’s easier to minimize lumps by putting the stock on the stove top and allow to warm via the heat from the oven.  Dump in the remaining ingredients, and cook on low for several hours.  I skipped the celery because I didn’t have any.

Easy after you get past the roux: it’s easy to see why this dish is one that was used to stretch food budgets.  Wikki has an interesting article on the history of and variations on gumbo.  Suffice to say, it’s a regionalized chilli cookoff. I wound up with enough for lunches this week and froze enough for almost a second week of lunches.

Meat: 8 O’clock ranch

Produce: Nourse Farms (peppers and tomatoes preserved from the summer)

Piccadilly Farms (onion, garlic)

Shaw’s Farm (butter)

King Arthur’s Flour (GF flour)

For Charlotte’s parents.

December 17, 2011

Friends of mine had the most adorable baby a week ago.  She was born a bit early and with more than her fair share of complications and is currently in a NICU.  A long time ago, I decided NICU nurses are like chemo nurses.  They balance pragmatism with hope, and can steel emotions enough to do the hard things while maintaining enough compassion to remember the patient and his/her family.

When I heard my friends’ baby was going to the NICU in a different hospital, I remembered my family’s tour(s) of the NICUs.  Nieces 2 and 3 were born way too early and enjoyed 2 helicopter rides, some very scary moments and while short by NICU stays, a long stay in the hospital.  Luckily, they were never in different hospitals but they did come home separately.  Nephew #3 apparently wanted to join the other two in this adventure – but he skipped the hospital ride and didn’t get a long stay: just enough to freak out his parents.  My family is lucky: all 3 are fine – if not downright ornery this time of year.

I started hearing what people were saying to my friends: about medicine coming a long way, about how the time would pass quickly, about how everything is going to be ok.  I’ve never been pregnant, the closest I’ve come to parenting is the rare times my sister let’s me watch a child or the cats.  I’m pretty clueless about how to care for an infant.  Putting a sleeper on a baby terrifies me: I’m afraid I’ll break his/her shoulder!

Ok, some NICU tours are more normal than others jaundice lights for example.  But saying to a parent that “you’d do the same thing at home” (watch your baby) as in the NICU is asinine.  At home, you can hold your baby at will, you can be a family.  In the NICU, you move to the rhythm of the hospital.  You can hold your child when allowed, sometimes see your child only at certain times, and let’s face it, very few of us are used to the sounds of alarms and noises.

As a friend, sibling, co-worker, you don’t know what to say.  There is the deep part of us that wants to say “your baby will be fine” but we don’t know this: there isn’t a promise with any birth.  Watching small improvements via pictures can bring smiles but are only the smallest of exhales that the parents may feel.  We don’t have to live in the fear of the phone ringing about our newborn.  We don’t have to live in the yo-yo of a NICU where guilt of a child becoming healthy can creep in as we watch other new parents join the NICU family or facing other families watch a baby loose his/her battle.

What we can offer our friends and family is love: an open phone line, gift cards for meals, and the mocking we’d do during our relationship (i.e. #newdadsarefunny).  We can offer a place of normalcy where we can let those we care about decompress. If you can’t think of something to say, simply say, that.  Or let your friends know that every emotion they feel is valid, authentic and acceptable.

But most of all, please don’t say something stupid.  Please don’t say this is part of some plan: it is hell.  It is hell for the people brought this baby into the world and all who love the family.  And Charlotte, you will look fantastic in orange.

Backing Pat and Other Random Thoughts From Early in the WCBB Season.

December 14, 2011

I’m a hoops junkie.  March is my birthday-Christmas-any celebration you want to name with an extended dance version track.  I live stream games on the phone, stay up until all hours of the night watching Cinderella’s try to win a game and seeing how making the tourney for some schools is just as (if not as exciting) as reaching the Final Four for major powerhouses.

Last season, Gary Blair led Texas A&M to the Aggies first national title. It really was a joyous event for WCBB junkies.  Blair served as an assistant in the vaulted program at Louisiana Tech for many years before becoming the head coach at Arkansas and then Texas A&M.  It was a great ending to a sport that has been dominated by 2-3 programs for a long time.  And to see Blair, who opted to remain coaching “girls sports” in Texas reach the pinnacle of his profession carried over into the off season.

And then the unthinkable happened.  Pat Summit announced she had early onset dementia/Alzheimer type.  Pat Summit: one of the iconic figures of women’s athletics.  Hell, she rehabbed from a torn ACL when that was a career ending injury while coaching the new University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer basketball program.  Over the years she has an obscene winning record, a 100% graduation rate for those who have stayed 4 years (and next semester she will sport 3 graduate students on her roster, Lady Vols just don’t graduate, they graduate early), every class has been to the Final Four since the NCAA started sponsoring a tournament, and all but 3 classes have won a national title. Mind boggling.  Yes, UNC Soccer, Penn State Volley Ball and UConn have had longer winning streaks and more national titles.

But Pat is more than that: she built a program in the infancy of Title IX to a consistent national power. In the heart of football country, in a state where basketball is rarely on the radar screen, she convinced people to become fans of the game: not just her program.  This past weekend, I was at Madison Square Garden for the Maggie Dixon Classic.  I sat next to a group of people from Vermont who came specifically to see the UT Lady Vols.  I asked if they had ties to UT: they’d never been to Knoxville but are fans of Summit and what she has done to raise the visibility of women’s athletics.  As I waited for my train back to Boston, there was a noticeable amount of UT orange in the waiting room.  We all started re-hashing the game: I was the only one who had ever been to Thompson-Boiling arena to see a game.  When I mentioned my parents had season tickets, it was like I said I had seats a Lambeau field.  There were UConn fans who felt the need to go and cheer for Pat despite the unfortunate ending that series had, people who simply knew how much she did along with a handful of others to make Title IX work.

One of the issues I’ve had with the LV program over the years is the public criticism of the players.  I prefer Geno’s closed practices, limiting his players from public scrutiny (and truth be told, I like his sense of humor a bit better, even though I’ll always root for the Lady Vols first!) as much as possible.  Both pushed each other into making better programs.  Both coaches, along with Leon Barrymore, C. Vivian Stringer, Tara Vanderveer and Jim Foster built programs when graduation meant the end playing the sport.

So I stood there on Sunday, watching Pat Summit, receive one of the dozens of accolades she will probably pick up this year about speaking up.  I’m a sap: I had tears in my eyes.  When Kim Mulkey and Brittney Griner took time to give her a hug, in the middle of the basketball game, when Sue Wicks

reminded everybody present that Pat Summit was one of the reasons so many women, both athletes and non-athletes can reach the pinnacle of a given profession, I realized how lucky I’ve been to watch the Lady Vols for over 20 years, every season, in and out.  I still think Geno’s way funnier.  But Pat? I think she put the first crack in Hillary’s glass ceiling.

Last night as the Lady Vols played their annual game against Rutgers, I received a text from my mom saying the standing ovation for Pat was well over a minute. At the RAC. When I saw my twitter feed light up with comments from the ESPN announcers and other individuals present about the standing ovation, when I heard about the Rutgers team selling bracelets for the Pat Summit foundation, after the Baylor team wore purple to raise Alzheimer’s awareness and Carson-Newman wore the We Back Pat shirts during an exhibition game, I thought about how one person could make an impact.  In 1974, women’s athletics was an afterthought in the college sport scene: now the Final Four, Frozen Four and championships in soccer and volleyball routinely sell out.  How women’s athletics is not an afterthought: how rivalries exist and how Title IX needed just as many coaches who knew young women could be as competitive as young men.

And I thought about Pat: who has really been there since the start, who has seen the evolution of women in athletics.  And I bawled: because after a life time of shaping and molding a generation of players, coaches and young women, she deserved to retire when she wanted to and enjoy the fruits of her labors.  And that how even if you have everything money can buy, sometimes, that’s just not enough.

It’s only a few months into the season, already the sport is mourning the loss of 2 coaches in a plane crash, too many ACLs to count and realizing that one of the leaders of women’s athletics is facing the battle of her life.  But the lining is that this is all news: 40 years ago, it probably wouldn’t have even made a mention in the local paper.

Red Tents, Lowe’s & Tebow . . . . thoughts from mid December

December 13, 2011

Two stories seemed to populate my twitter feed yesterday: The Houston Police arresting the OWS protestors under tents, outside of the view of others.  And Lowe’s decision to pull its advertising dollars from All-American Muslim on TLC (in fairness, supposedly BOA, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and GM also pulled their ads but those companies said they didn’t have any additional ads scheduled).  Facebook seemed to be teeming with Tebow.

Ack. I’d rather swallow cyanide.  The arrests out of public eye disturb me.  I’m not saying the Houston police did anything wrong.  It is the perception of arresting individuals outside of the public view when the individual is being arrested at a public assembly.  I really don’t have enough vested in the entire OWS movement (aside to think it’s hopelessly organized without goals for first order change) to even think it’s going to make a difference (ok, let’s shut down ports for day labors to protest imports?).  What does disturb me is the keeping the press away from arrests, breaking up camps and events in general: it happened in Boston (in our pretty liberal city with a Mayor For Life).  I’m also bemused in that ironic way that defines me that the only time various cities can seem to act together is in arresting citizens who really aren’t breaking any major laws.  Heaven forbid cities work together for something like, oh, job creation, sustainable development or crazy things like that.  Let’s face it, the OWS protestors/campers really didn’t do a lot of damage compared to winning say, the World Series and a good Nor’Easter or such event would have sent many scurrying.

Oh Lowe’s.  Once again, a company caves to the views of a few.  First, the group that managed to get Lowe’s to stop ads managed to raise the profile of a so-so cable show (brought to you by the network of the pro-creating crazies in Arkansas (what are they at? 20 now?), the objectification of children as beauty pageant contestants and the whacko kate/jon/children drama).  The sad reality is that Lowe’s is (compared to Home Depot) a low activist company: very few dollars donated in the past election cycles.  Seriously? You are going to go after Lowe’s for advertising against the trumped-up right-wing ‘values’.  Um, while you are at it .  . . how about going after Delta and Expeida for supporting the LGBT community? Or Goya for daring to sell food that is traditional found in Latin American cuisine? And Lowe’s? Seriously? You are running from a fringe group.  I’d say boycott Lowe’s but most would run to Home Depot … and well, Home Depot has a worse record since buying local is “more expensive”.  Rolls eyes.

Which brings me to number 3.  Tim Tebow.  Ok, look, he is probably a nice kid.  He is a Florida Gator so…that’s a strike.  I don’t believe in a view of any faith that starts off with “Let me first give thanks. . . ” (I’m pretty sure there is a part in The Bible about praying in private….which makes that weird pose he does annoying).  My thought (and in all fairness, I’m suspect of any born again anything) on Tebow is this: he’s what 23? Who isn’t dumb at 23?  I’m bemused at best by his comments on marital relationships when he is admittedly an unmarried virgin who has already published his autobiography!  Look, I get that he is a PK missionary kid: he is a good quarterback.  He hasn’t done something to fall from grace like Lance, Tiger or Maguire.  I hope he doesn’t: not because OF his faith but because I hope he is a decent person.  I don’t believe he has a “divine talent”, it cracks me up the amount of time people have spent talking about Tebow (ok, this week Boston plays Denver so…).  Maybe Tebow became “hot” because of Penn State and people wanting to believe in football again (for those of us who follow the SEC, we’ve seen this annoying pose for y-e-a-r-s).  Maybe Tebow became hot because of the insane 4th quarter comebacks (note to Tim: don’t try it against New England or in the playoffs).  Who knows. But there are a lot of devout football players: the difference, most of them are not white quarterbacks.  Maybe why that is Tebowmania drives me nuts (that and his gator heritage).

But if you are going to boycott Lowe’s please don’t go to Home Depot. . . .

Best laid plans. . . .

December 12, 2011

There are a million reasons I could never be a parent.  Most of them involve my utter lack of ability to plan and execute to a “normal” level.  Take today for example.  ALL day I sat around thinking “potato soup”.  I completely obsessed about it: and came home to find out that I didn’t have any potatoes. Massive #fail!  Sigh.  Fortunately, I had some onion soup left over from when my mom visited: 100% local (except the cognac).  I mean, my mom whipped this up one afternoon when I was at work. WHO whips up onion soup? (aside from the obvious?).

Onion Soup

Oh winter soups . . . .

I was so glad to have this to come home to have as my Plan B!  I spent the weekend in Atlantic City: had a good time but realized how bland commercialized food can be.  Honestly, I found myself wondering how much junk I put into my body when traveling: I honestly would have flunked tell this salad from its companion apart.  The food wasn’t bad … it just wasn’t good.  I’ve become used to the freshness of food.  Somebody remind me of this come January when I’m looking for an avocado.

So, for the soup:

Broth based on veggies from Shared Harvest CSA and beef from 8 O’Clock Ranch.

Onions from Red Fire Farm

Cheese from Grasse River B Ranch (via 8 O’Clock Ranch).

Not local: Cognac.

 

Dear Mr. Obama, Maybe You Should Look at Your Laws on LGBT Rights First.

December 7, 2011

A friend of mine posted The Presidential Memorandum — International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons that the White House released quietly yesterday.  In reading it, I could literally feel my eyes narrow and my anger build.  President Obama provided the following opening statements:

“That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

I had to read it several times: yes, the President of the United States stated “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love”.  President Obama is obviously heterosexual married: if he wasn’t he couldn’t even make that statement as a leader whose own federal government denies same-sex benefits to some Federal employees, denies Federal benefits of the US tax code to legally married gayl couples (since marriage is deemed a ‘state right’) and has done little to prevent the rampant state-legislation of DOMA.

Oh, wait, President Obama, ends his memo with this chilling note to the LGBT community:

“This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.”

The ultra cynical side of me sees this (and I know since it’s a policy memo it’s a legal necessity) as a check mark: look at all the good things I’ve done for LGBT people, I can’t do anything else ::shrug:: I’ve got the Congress from hell.

I’ve never been a fan of any American president proclaiming to the world how other nations should act.  But this is a slap in my face that banks on the fact that the Republicans can’t nominate an equally tolerable candidate (I’m not an Obama fan) and there isn’t a real third-party option.  This is another example of Obama’s ‘safe position’ on anything.  Here are some facts about LGBT rights/protections in the United States:

1) There are no antidiscrimination laws for LGBT individuals. While crimes can be charged as a ‘hate crime’ under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of the 111th Congress, it is only an ancillary charge.  I can be turned down for a job for being gay: the application may say “xxx company doesn not discriminate against xyz” but there is not a federal law that protects me  in seeking employment from not being hired simply because I am gay.

2) One state allows conjugal visits for same-sex couples if one is in prison. One.  There is a LGBT caveat that the relationship had to exist prior to incarceration (heterosexual couples don’t have this same limitation).

According to the White House’s website, “President Obama also continues to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.”  But in the words of Elmer Fudd “Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits” (or Obama’s case, elephants).

Look, I get that Obama has done more for LGBT rights than any US president: the LGBT community to a great extent does a good job of forgetting Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law: the same DOMA that is now causing a myriad of legal protection issues.  I get that the economy should be the number one issue for President Obama.  What I don’t get, can’t get and probably never will is that the same man who has the gall to tell the world how to treat LGBT citizens in other sovereign nations will not make a public policy speech demanding those rights for his own citizens, extending same-sex benefits for *all* Federal employees and stating the basic premise of leadership: I cannot and will not ask another (in this case a nation) to do something that I, myself, am unwilling to do.

My vote isn’t tied to my sexual orientation: please don’t assume that it is Mr. Obama.  You are simply lucky that there isn’t a viable candidate from the other party.

Random Acts of Kindness

December 6, 2011

So, apparently my car decided that it wanted to see a mechanic today, not tomorrow which fit my schedule much better.  I had a hunch I had a loose cable connection but honestly just don’t have the grip strength to open the latch of the hood of the car.  So, on my way home the blasted thing died.  I saw it coming and was able to ditch into a parking lot of a Nissan car dealership.  Ok, if you *live* near these guys, go there for car repairs if you have a Nissan family of cars.  I spend my time complaining about poor customer service (aka Best Buy) and frustrations on common courtesy.  Here is what happened today:

My car dies 1/2 way up their driveway (great, eh?).  They push it up hill.  Try to run the diagnostics: because I have a Ford (and hush, it’s 6 years old, 90K miles and no problems) they can only offer to replace the alternator.  They were not 100% sold that it might not be a slipped cable or a cabling issue.  They didn’t want to just slap in a $500 part/labor item when I could be towed to a Ford dealer (they do business with them and suggested them, hey, that works for me) and have a lesser repair bill.  I’m thrilled.  Then the service manager said “I’m not charging you fo the diagnostics: we can’t diagnosis because of the differences and it’s not right to pass a bill to you.” What?  ::blink::  He then called over to Ford, said I was being towed over and made sure they could look at my car tomorrow morning (they closed at 5:30 today, it was 4:45).  I think I’m in love.

I get over to Ford, they are ready, fill out the paper work and confirm they don’t have a loaner.  The rental place doesn’t have anything until tomorrow mid-day and the woman tells me “why don’t you wait until we run the diagnostics: your lights, dash and other items are coming on before renting a car.” It still could be the alternator.  It still could be a few days.  But in both cases, two different service departments went out of their way to make sure I didn’t spend extra money.  I’m not a long-standing customer, I’ve never been in either one before.  Maybe a bit of restoring of people looking out for people: maybe another side of doing business with local merchants.

I’m mostly just grateful for random acts for a few people today: I hate dealing with cars and while I don’t have the bill, I’m not completely freaking out about what comes next.

Oh Monday. . . .

December 5, 2011

A complete and total Monday.  The good: I managed to trouble shoot an issue with my car (I know nothing about cars but understand basic circuitry and figured out the positive cable from the battery was loose causing the light to come on.  My plan was to open the hood and tighten it but hey, I don’t have the grip strength to do that so off to the mechanic I go on Wednesday. Joy.)  One of my co-workers called in sick so I tried to deal with double the normal work load while pretending that the pounding migraine might just go away before oh, Christmas.  (It did after a copious amount of caffeine infusion).

I finally received the package from Best Buy Worst Store Ever.  Still haven’t heard from them, don’t expect to but hey, my sister’s Christmas errand is complete (trust me, I’m grateful, even if it is on my kitchen table).  Today would have been the perfect day to grab takeout, hit a drive through (ok, I do admit to hitting the golden arches today during the quest for caffeine, I hadn’t had any in a few days and was suffering …. I’d say like heroin withdrawal but that might be an exaggeration: on which side, I’m not sure) or something else.  Instead I made it 2 for 2 in my I’m not buying prepared food, I’m eating only what is in my pantry/kitchen/ and as local as possible (I do have somethings that are not S.O.L.E sourced left over that I’m not going to just toss).  What can I say, I’m drawn to the Dark Days Challenge in the sense that it forces me to think in advance about what I’m going to eat and where my food came from (couple that with the fact I’m still shaking my head at McDonald’s being an Olympic sponsor for some reason) and who is ‘profiting’ from my purchases.  Hey, I’m all for people making money: I’d just prefer it to be small businesses.  Again, based on zero scientific evidence, I do have to wonder if the increase in allergies, migraines and other expensive but not deadly health conditions is related to fillers in our food (but I’m a history major with a masters in theology, I know how to ask questions …. lots of them).

Anyway, today I wanted meatballs. Not a heavy pasta dish with meatballs.  Just meatballs (don’t ask me why).  For some reason, I had taken out some sausage from 8 O’clock Ranch this morning, grabbed an onion,  opened a jar of whole tomatoes from my CSA share at Nourse Farm I canned over the summer and mixed in some dried rosemary from my mom’s garden and mixed it with some GF bread crumbs.  I wound up freezing 1/2 into a meatloaf for later this winter and cooking the rest.  I made a sauce with some Fromage Blanc from Foxboro Cheese, half and half from Shaw’s Farm and a few leafs of spinach stirred in from the Somerville Winter’s Market.

I’m sure, oh, mid-January, I’m going to be screaming for the love of an avocado but right now, my past 2 attempts have been tasty.  The 2 items out of the radius, the meat and the rosemary.  If I make this again, I’ll add a pinch of salt: it needed a bit to offset the acid.

Meatballs and Spinach

Comfort food for a Monday